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Ruth-Thorp-Studio_Lilly Mae 5

A story about a feisty little girl called Lilly Mae who lives on a cloud and changes the weather according to her moods.


With its quirky rhyme and beautiful illustrations, Lilly Mae is sure to charm parents and children alike.

written by Sarah Mahfoudh and illustrated and designed by Ruth Thorp


ISBN: 978-0992864736  /  Paperback  /  32 pages  /  First published in 2015

BEGINNIGS OF LILLY MAE  /  Words from the author Sarah Mahfoudh

It’s funny to think there was ever a time when Lilly Mae didn’t exist; in fact, I find this with so many of my characters. I know there had to be a time before them, but it feels as though they’ve always existed!  Sometimes I can’t remember exactly how or when my main characters came about, but there are a couple whose beginnings stick in my mind.  One of these is Lilly Mae: My daughter (now 7) was a tiny baby and we went to visit Ruth at her home in Bath. Ruth started showing me some of the card designs she had been working on and I remember seeing this little figure with an umbrella on one of the cards. Something about her struck me; I think she reminded me somehow of my little girl.  On the way home from Bath, driving along the winding valley road, with a beautiful green landscape dropping away on one side and a vast, steely-grey sky rising up to fill the space, the character of Lilly Mae and her opening rhyme just popped into my head:


"Lilly Mae is very proud

because she lives upon a cloud

and from her home high in the sky

she chooses weather for you and I."


I began to say the rhyme out loud to soothe my daughter and she seemed to like it, so I carried on. By the time I got home to Oxfordshire, I already had the first draft of my little story, and I emailed Ruth the very next day to ask whether she would like to create a children’s book with me.  And so began Lilly Mae. I hope other people will love her as much as my family and I have!

'This is a delightful book with clever rhymes and lovely illustrations. Definitely recommended.' Jan Shepherd




I've read to both of my children since they were still inside their Mothers belly and still do so everytime I get the chance to do so. I firmly believe that it's one of the best ways of bonding with your child as a Father. With children aged 2 and 11 months, I judge the books that I read to them on 2 levels. If my children sit still from start to finish then it means it is visually very good, and the imagery has held their attention sufficiently. If I sit still from start to finish, then it means it was written well enough for me not to skip pages and I've enjoyed reading it. When you get both of those things in the same book, then you know you've got a keeper. That's exactly what we discovered the first time we sat down to enjoy Lilly Mae; a collaborative effort from author Sarah Mahfoudh and illustrator Ruth Thorp. "Again? Again! Again?". We read it cover to cover 4 times in a row without pausing for breath.


Lilly Mae lives on a cloud and controls the weather depending upon her mood (almost exactly what happens in our house if I'm honest). The colour schemes, imagery and fonts change depending on the weather, making you anticipate each turn of the page and the next illustrative masterpiece that awaits. The connections between emotions and weather in this book are subliminal genius and will have your child learning without them even knowing. By the time we had read the book for the 3rd and 4th time, Clayton was looking out of the window saying 'happy' as he recognised the sun to be shining. I'm looking forward to seeing his reaction the next time we read the book, depending on the weather at the time. Lilly Mae conjures up rain, hail, thunder and winds as well as the happy sunshine - just because we're in the middle of a British summer doesn't mean that any of those aren't a possibility to enhance our reading experience!


Created by a pair of talented, young Brits and published by an independent British publisher, this rhyming picture book can be enjoyed by all ages. It's easy on the eye, flows off the tongue and encourages interaction. The Dad Creek household thoroughly recommends it for you and your family!'  Ryan of DadCreek




'A wonderful rhyming, picture book that informs about the weather as well as a good read for younger children!' Susan Wilson




'In ‘Lilly Mae’ Ruth Thorp has made a picture book with her sister Sarah Mahfoudh about a little girl who is able to magically control the weather.


It has a very similar style to ‘Squawks’ in that it uses a simple but vibrant palette throughout and has a beautiful tone which makes it a joy to read aloud. Lilly Mae lives on a cloud and chooses what the weather will be she can make it rain and tell the wind to blow.


It is a very read and when sharing it I found myself naturally drawn to demonstrating all of the different weathers to the children and got them to join in. We enjoyed pretending to be rain and wind which caused great hilarity especially when we got to be the CRASH of thunder. But the weather is also a reflection of how Lilly Mae feels when she's sad it rains, hails and blows a gale. The people in the story want to help make Lilly Mae feel better but she is happy to feel how she wants to and eventually she feels better and makes the sun smile again. Again I feel this is a lovely way to discuss emotions with a young child it can help explain about how sometimes we don’t feel happy but happiness will return.' Jo Clarke




'a perfect and unique little picture book [...] These sorts of stories which explain the world around us are such rare gems.'  @zooarchaelogis


picture books

ILLUSTRATING THE STORY  //  One of the most enjoyable parts of illustrating Lilly Mae, was being able to add extra levels of detail to the story through illustration. Sarah’s wonderful concept and beautifully written story was a dream illustration project and so easy to be inspired by. After reading the words, being able to put my own take on how or why Lilly Mae was changing the weather, or illustrating her mood was a lot of fun. One of my favourites is her ice-cream making cloud which makes it snow down on earth.


ILLUSTRATING MOVEMENT  //  The windy scenes in Lilly Mae were a lot of fun to produce as I really had to create a sense of movement and energy. The spread design and illustration combined with the layout of flowing text following the movement of the wind really helped to enhance the dynamic of these pages.


LILLY MAE STYLE  //  Creating Lilly Mae’s outfits and sense of style, were a big part of developing her character and helping to tell the story. I love her her funky stripy leggings, cool hats and snowboarding gear!

Ruth-Thorp-Studio_Lilly Mae
Ruth-Thorp-Studio_Lilly Mae 3
Ruth-Thorp-Studio_Lilly Mae 4

CREATING LILLY MAE  /  Words from the illustrator

Sarah's wonderful and beautifully written story was easy to become inspired by enabling me to add my own detail and story through illustration. I had a lot of fun coming up with why and how Lilly Mae changed the weather and loved developing  the looks and style of Lilly Mae with all her funky outfits!


COLOUR  //  The colour palette for Lilly Mae came to me quite quickly after reading Sarah’s words. I wanted the palette to be fresh, distinctive and refined. The obvious starting point for me was the pale blue sky and bright white clouds, with the addition of warm yellow for the sun being a must. This would form the background within my scenes. Reading the book, you get a sense that Lilly Mae is a determined and feisty character with a real sense of fun and joy, so the colours of the illustrations had to portray her strength. I loved the combination of hot pink against the blue, yellow and white, and introduced the dark grey for outline and detail. The limited combination of the pink and grey was enough to show every detail of her character and expression without complicating the simple graphic style. The addition of light grey and a darker blue then allowed me to create darker contrast spreads for the stormy skies, windy scenes and when Lilly Mae felt sad.


TEXTURE  //  I’m a big fan of bold flat colours (you will find a lot of it in my work!) but I felt it was also important to add some texture into Lilly Mae to help break up the expanse of sky; to add depth and interest to the illustrations. I achieved this by creating simple rounded dot and square graph paper hatches and applying them to hand-drawn cloud shapes. The combination and overlaying of hatches with flat colours helped to illustrate the softness of a white fluffy cloud and falling snow or the heaviness of a dark hail or rain cloud ready to burst!

Ruth-Thorp-Studio_Lilly Mae 2

'Fifi (6) and Ned (3) really loved this story and found it quite inspirational. They loved the illustrations, especially Lilly Mae’s dress sense. Its definitely resulted in quite a lot of dramatic and active role playing this Easter break.' Claire from Being a Mummy

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